Another prospect promoted to Houston: Astros calling up Vincent Velasquez

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After averaging 104 losses during the past four seasons the Astros have the most wins in the American League and general manager Jeff Luhnow isn’t messing around.

Baseball’s best prospect, 20-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa, has been called up to Houston to make his MLB tonight and the Astros are calling up another top prospect too.

Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that they’ve promoted 23-year-old right-hander Vincent Velasquez to the majors from Double-A, where he had a 1.37 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 26 innings.

Velasquez came into this season with zero experience above Single-A, but is now headed to the majors with all of five starts at Double-A and zero starts at Triple-A. He ranked as a consensus top-100 prospect this spring and joins 21-year-old Lance McCullers in moving into Houston’s rotation without throwing a pitch at Triple-A.

Velasquez will make his MLB debut Wednesday against the White Sox and veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez has been demoted to the bullpen after posting a 5.18 ERA in 11 starts. Houston is ahead of schedule and going for it.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.